Posted by: mikenicholsblog | October 6, 2014

no, must!

We should work out more and eat better (more vegetables, less fries).  We should text less and talk to one another more. We should look at our cell phones less and listen to others more intently. We should read more and watch less TV. We should drive the speed limit. We should be on time. We shouldn’t text while driving. We should read the Bible more. We should pray fervently. We should, we should, and we should. But does saying, “we should” mean that there is a better chance that we may not? My firm conviction is that on matters of importance, the words, “we must” carries far more weight than, “we should.”  Believe me when I tell you that the word should is often dominate in my life, but things genuinely change when I must do something. I wonder if you are the same.

As I was reading along in John chapter three yesterday, a verse that was very meaningful in my college years struck a chord with me. For a time, the ministry of John the Baptist overlapped with the ministry of Jesus. A dispute arose and eventually John’s disciples came to him. John 3:25-30 provides the setting:

A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.” John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (NLT)

Read again what John says in verse thirty. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. I personally grew up reading the King James Version of the Bible and the words were, He must increase, but I must decrease. John didn’t say should, he said must. Just as we battle with other, “I should,” vs. “I must” issues, seeking that Jesus is always, “greater and greater” and we are “less and less,” is also a battle. John was submitted to God’s plan and committed to exalting Jesus. Living this way brings joy, but I fear that most Christ-followers know they should live out John’s words, but struggle with the must of John’s conviction.

In thinking about the incredible depth of John’s words, we have to ask ourselves what it means for Him to become greater and greater while we become less and less. To me, there is a humility that causes us to say, “not my will, but for His glory I give this issue to you.” A heart that says “I must exalt Him,” will have great impact on the world around us. If we should, we probably won’t, if we must … His will is accomplished.

It’s very interesting to me that the word must is used significantly in three verses of John chapter three. “You must be born again,” (verse 7), “so the Son of Man must be lifted up,” (verse 14) and the must we’ve just looked at in verse 30. We would all agree that we must all be born again if salvation is to be ours. We all know that it was a must for Christ to hang on the cross for us. And I think we all can readily accept that His design for His followers then and now is that Jesus must become greater and greater and I must become less and less. Should? No, Must!



  1. Thanks Mike, sometimes a simple word like Should and Must can change a life. Thanks to all of you that put this together each week. Hope others get a lot out of it like I do.

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